Body of Missing Woman Found Wrapped Up In Woods Behind Home
Lakeland, Florida – 33-year-old Diana Mercado was last seen by her boyfriend around 5:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 28, 2012, as she left the home she shares with him, her mother, and her sister, to go to work at the north Lakeland Dunkin’ Donuts on U.S. 98 North.Around 8:45 a.m. that same morning, the manager of the Dunkin’ Donuts called the house and left a message that Diana had not yet come to work. The family did not worry too much, based on Diana’s past history (according to the family, she moved to Florida in September 2011 from Massachusetts to get away from a lifestyle of bad influences and drug use).Around 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, when Diana still had not returned home, her family called PCSO to report her missing. A PCSO deputy sheriff responded to the home (10947 Pathfinder Trail in Lakeland) to take a missing persons report, and sent out Diana’s description and her vehicle, a black 1999 Chrysler Cirrus, as a BOLO (Be On Look Out).Around 6:00 a.m. on Sunday, April 29th, family members found Diana’s vehicle in the parking lot of the Wells Fargo Bank located at U.S. 98 and Daughtery Road. They reported this to PCSO. A Missing Persons detective responded to the home to gather more information and investigate leads in an attempt to find Diana. Detectives worked throughout Sunday, until 4:00 a.m. on Monday, April 30th, following up leads. A news release was also sent out.On Monday, April 30th, PCSO Homicide detectives began working the case. They went back out to the home to conduct their own investigation, and contacted the PCSO Agricultural Crimes Unit to help search the approximately five acre piece of land on which the home sits. A PCSO Ag Crimes deputy located a female’s body, believed to be Diana Mercado, approximately 50 yards behind the home, in a wooded area thick with brush. The body was wrapped up and lying on the ground.We are early into the investigation, and detectives are working with PCSO Crime Scene Technicians and the Medical Examiner to remove the body and determine the exact cause of death. Detectives have spoken with Diana’s mother and sister, and are looking for her boyfriend, Antonio Vasquez, to speak to him about this development.